Out of Tune? No, Bossa Nova

[l1]A[/l1]t times, English seems so limited, despite its enormous vocabulary. Many languages say in one word what can’t possibly be directly translated into English without extensive explanation.

‘Desafinado’ is a bit of a word puzzle. In Portuguese and Spanish, ‘afinar’ means ‘to sharpen’ so the past tense, ‘afinado’ means ‘sharpened.’ The ‘des’ prefix is the same as ‘dis’ in English; it reverses the meaning. So ‘desafinado’ would literally mean ‘not sharpened.’ But it this context it really means that the musical notes haven’t been sharpened; therefore, ‘not tuned’, ‘discordant’, something along those lines.

Portuguese being a much more romantic language than English, it seems that the discord in the song isn’t merely an inability to carry a tune; there’s a hint that much more is at stake:

 Se voce disser que eu desafino, amor, Saiba que isso em mim provoca imensa dor

 If you say that I sing out of tune, love, Know that this causes me great pain

and later

 O que voce nao sabe, nem sequer pressente, 

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